Designer Digest: Husband-and-Wife Teams

For these three couples in Elda, Spain, business and marriage go hand in hand.

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Paco Gil and Barbara Fusco

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Paco Gil

Photo By Courtesy Photo

Paco Gil, Barbara Fusco

Line: Paco Gil

Launch: 1982

Background: Paco Gil’s family has always been involved in the footwear industry. Gil started out in sales in the 1970s, but eventually was pulled toward design. “It was a slow but natural progression,” Gil said. He met his wife, Barbara Fusco, while doing business at the Nina showroom in Manhattan, where she headed up customer service and acted as a sales liaison. Friendship blossomed into transatlantic love, and Fusco eventually traded her native New York for the Mediterranean. “Our company policy was not to hire wives and girlfriends, but my partners and I made an exception,” recalled Gil. The couple has worked together for 20 years, though in separate capacities: Gil oversees design, while Fusco handles international sales and customer service.

Philosophy behind the line: “To create and not follow trends. And to offer a unique quality product at an accessible price point,” said Gil. “I design a wardrobe of shoes for a woman who is secure with her sense of style.”

What are the challenges of working together? “Spending too much time together, safeguarding our autonomy and giving each other breathing space,” said Gil. They do their utmost not to bring their work and problems home. “We make a big effort to park them at our doorstep each night.”

What are the perks? “Spending so much time together — it’s the flip side of the same coin,” Gil said.

Are the designs influenced by the partnership? “I do the designing, and Barbara sells. In fact, she has no imagination when it comes to design. But she knows what our clients want and has a sixth sense about what will be successful.”

Inspiration for fall ’09: Influences range from the Spanish countryside to the city streets. Gaucho-style boots in distressed materials are important. “Squared-off toes also will make a slow comeback, and black won’t just be a neutral but a fashion color,” Gil said.

Retail range: $300 to $600

Distribution: Medici in New York; Poste Mistress in London; Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong; Burger in Zurich

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